Free Speech Zones?
By now, everybody knows about the "free speech" zones that President Bush had set up when he went to give a speech in Knoxville and other cities. Bloggers like Kim du Toit and Misha were up in arms about it. Bloggers like DANEgerus and Bill Hobbes took a different view. The actual news link won't come up for me, which makes me veeeeeery suspicious about the whole damn thing. But I'm going to toss my two cents in just for good measure.
The first things we have to look at, in my opinion, are these: Was anyone prevented from saying what they wanted to? If so, how? Were people allowed to say what they wanted, but only in a certain space? Was anyone jailed for what they said? Just what was done, and by whom?
So far, all the reports that I've seen are that the people who wanted to protest were given an area about one-third of a mile away from the president. One person states that signs that were critical of Bush were removed.
The local police, at the Secret Service?s behest, set up a "designated free-speech zone" on a baseball field surrounded by a chain-link fence a third of a mile from the location of Bush?s speech. The police cleared the path of the motorcade of all critical signs, though folks with pro-Bush signs were permitted to line the president?s path. Neel refused to go to the designated area and was arrested for disorderly conduct; the police also confiscated his sign. Neel later commented, "As far as I?m concerned, the whole country is a free speech zone. If the Bush administration has its way, anyone who criticizes them will be out of sight and out of mind."
I'm actually riding the fence on this. On one hand, people should be able to say whatever they want to say, especially on PUBLIC PROPERTY, which we the people have paid for via our taxes. If Bush is stupid enough to take away people's signs then he deserves whatever he gets. Preferably a whole heaping of shit, served up in a pie tin thrown at his face.
Speaking of throwing things at people's faces, that's the other side of the coin. Anybody remember WTO? How about the riots in Miami? It seems that anytime the Left gets together to protest, all hell breaks loose. There are still repercussions from WTO in Seattle, in terms of how protesters are treated. And you know what? The cops have every right to be suspicious, since the moonbats have proven time and time again that they will break the law, disrupt the peace, and vandalize anything they disagree with. During anti-war protests this year, sidewalk trashcans were ripped from their bolts and chucked through windows. One hotel had it's entranceway set on fire. These people destroyed public property that had nothing to do with the object of their protests! What makes people think that when the President comes to town, these people will suddenly toss aside their violent ways and protest peacefully? The safety of the President is a pretty damn big deal, and if you want to allow people who have proven to be violent close to the podium, you can guarantee that the Prez wouldn't get two words out of his mouth before he was hit with a rotten tomato, a rock.... or a moltov cocktail. And before you scoff at that thought, just look at some of the pictures that came out of Seattle during WTO. The entire downtown area was trashed.
So I think this was a compromise. "You can say what you want, but you're not getting close enough to threaten the president." However, the line was crossed when the anti-Bush signs were confiscated by the Secret Service. So I can see the points of both sides of this arguement. However, I'm leaning more towards the Hobbs and DANEgerus side. As a resident of Moonbat Central, people like Misha and Kim have to convince me that the protesters wouldn't have posed a threat to the President before I'll agree that designated "free speech" zones were unnecessary and dicatorial.
And let me tell you, that's going to be a hard sell.
So be outraged that some signs were taken. Be outraged that yes, there were peacefull protesters who were lumped in with the anarchists and loons. But save some of that rage for the very people who make it necessary to take drastic measures.